Saturday, August 30, 2014

UK Health Radio Medical News Update – On the Hour Cancer drugs under threat.

UK Health Radio Medical News Update – On the Hour

Cancer drugs under threat.

The government is getting ready to threaten to stop buying some expensive cancer drugs if manufacturers do not cut their prices the BBC’s programme Newsnight has learned.
The Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF), set up in 2010, allowed patients in England to access drugs that would normally be deemed too expensive if subjected to the same cost-benefit evaluation process as other drugs.
But new proposals, to be revealed on Thursday, suggest that the fund needs to be reformed to make it sustainable. CDF has treated 55,000 patients so far.
Set up by Prime Minister David Cameron, the fund had the political benefit of defusing the damaging arguments that have arisen when officials have denied patients access to expensive cancer treatment on cost-benefit grounds.
But it is now breaching its budget limits, which are set to be expanded on Thursday from £200m a year to £280m. So, civil servants say, it needs to be reformed in order to make it sustainable.
Under the plans, even cancer drugs already being used in the CDF will be subjected to cost-benefit analyses - although they will still be more generous than similar processes in conventional drugs.
The intention is to bring some cancer drug prices closer into line with others. Drugs such as Kadcyla, are at the centre of the argument.
The cancer drug extends life by a little under 6 months on average, and costs £90,000 for a course and is currently available through the Cancer Drugs Fund.
But, were NHS England buying it through its normal process, it would be willing to spend no more than between £10,000 and £25,000 for a drug with that sort of effectiveness.
The intention of the changes is to help force cancer drug prices further in line with those norms.
Officials state that no patients will have any current treatment terminated. And patients with rare conditions, who have no options other than very expensive drugs, will continue to have access to them if their doctors apply for them.
In addition to reducing spending on expensive drugs, the proposals will also seek to reduce spending on drugs that are of lower effectiveness.

Amanda Thomas
UK Health Radio Medical News Update – On the Hour
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